Written by Kim Taylor
This is Elodie, she’s an ex-racing greyhound who adopted us just over four years ago. I’ve met a lot of dogs over the years, from working in shelters as a student to volunteer work I’ve done as an adult. In all these years, I’ve never met a dog like Elodie.
If you’re thinking of adopting an ex-racing greyhound, here’s what I’ve learned. These aren’t all going to apply to every greyhound and they’re not all unique to this breed either but here’s the good, the bad and the ugly from my perspective.
Usually, when you rehome a dog from the shelter, they’ve (hopefully) not been living in kennels for too long. Most will have usually had some experience of living in a house and being a pet.
This isn’t the case for most ex-racing dogs. Like the majority of her ‘colleagues’, Elodie had lived her whole life in kennels. After adopting her from a local greyhound rescue and through the power of social media, we had loads of information about her formative years. Some of the staff at her racing kennels reached out and told us what a lovely dog she was and we were reassured that she’d been well looked after.
All this combined means that if your greyhound sees (or hears or smells) something interesting, you have very little chance of catching them until they’ve had enough!
When it comes to rehoming an older dog you have the choice of keeping their old name or coming up with a new one. If you keep the old one, it’s one less thing they have to learn when going to live with a new family. However, giving them a new name can help them disassociate any previous negativity e.g. if their old name was shouted at them a lot.
Elodie didn’t respond to any variation of her old racing name so there seemed no point in keeping it. By helping her learn her new name, it helped us form our own bond with her and helped her understand her racing days were over.
Although we were told she was fine with other dogs, it soon became apparent that was not the case. If anything small and fluffy got too close, she’d pick it up and hold it in her mouth. If she’s ever walked anywhere we might encounter dogs running off leash, she has to be muzzled. This doesn’t phase her in the slightest as she would have always worn a muzzle when she raced.
She is the most accident prone being I’ve ever met! She loves to play, she has very long limbs and all the grace and coordination of a hurricane. She has accidentally torn the skin off her legs several times over the years and has damaged two toes. She never yelps when we have to clean her injuries and shows no interest when she has to wear a bandage.
Elodie is a velcro dog. She loves people and loves attention. If someone stops us in the street or pops round to visit, she’ll happily stand there for hours if there’s some fuss in it for her. She spends most of her days lying in the armchair next to my desk and will usually follow me round the house if I go to make a drink or a snack.
Greyhounds don’t sit - their physiology means it’s not as natural for a greyhound to sit as it is for other dogs. They can do it if they have to, but it’s more comfortable for them to lay down.
Elodie is never let off lead outside of a secure area but we’ve met plenty of greyhounds who do learn perfect recall. They’re a smart breed who bond with their owners.
For a large dog, they really don’t need a lot of exercise. Whilst many will welcome the chance for a quick run, they’re happy with a 40min walk a day. It’s far more important for a greyhound to have companionship and somewhere comfy to sleep.
Their tongues don’t fit in their mouths very well. Despite having fairly long snouts, it’s very common for greyhounds to sleep with their mouths open and we’ll often notice Elodie sitting somewhere wide awake, with a tiny bit of tongue poking out.
They prefer soft surfaces. Whether it’s because she spent so long living in kennels or because of her boney body, we’ll rarely see Elodie lying on the floor. She prefers a fully made king bed (preferably with a human trying to sleep in it) but will settle for a couch. Dog beds are apparently beneath her!
Sighthounds feel the cold. The advice we were given from the shelter was to check her ears and paws, if they’re both cold, she needs a jumper. Elodie now has a lovely wardrobe of jumpers, onesies, jammies and coats to help her stay warm.
Thankfully, greyhound racing is illegal in most states in the US. More states and countries around the world are making it illegal by the year. But for now, there are still tracks operating and therefore, lots of greyhounds in desperate need of a retirement home. If you’re thinking of adopting a dog and want something on the larger side but with a docile personality, consider a greyhound.